SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Minutes after the players were informed defensive lineman Ray McDonald had been released by the team, general manager Trent Baalke held an impromptu press conference and fielded questions from the media.
Here is that transcript (questions are paraphrased):
Opening Statement: "Well this is unexpected. Welcome, everybody. Just want to inform everybody that after the recent allegations concerning Ray McDonald, we as an organization notified him and his agent that he will be terminated, released immediately, effective immediately. While this organization has a strong belief in due process and has demonstrated that over time, Ray’s demonstrated a pattern of poor decision making that has led to multiple distractions to this organization and this football team that really can no longer be tolerated. And that’s the reason for the decision we made today. With that being said I’ll open it up to any questions."
Question: Last time there was an investigation, you and everybody in the organization, talked about due process. Why not due process this time?
Baalke: "Like I just said, Matt, we certainly believe in due process and we’ve demonstrated that over time. But when it becomes a pattern of poor decision making which it has in this case, it becomes a time when it leaves you with no other decision to be made than the one we made today."
Q: Who makes that decision? Is you, is it Jed York? Who makes this final call?
Baalke: "Well, once again, we make decisions collectively here. Our ownership was involved, the head football coach was involved, and myself. We met briefly. Jed was out of the office today. We met with Jed over the phone, met with coach in my office and this is the decision we came up with."
Q: Will the team make any investigation to see if the allegations had any merit?
Baalke: "This isn’t about this one incident. This is about a pattern, once again, Matt. If this was one incident we would be standing up here talking about due process like we have multiple times in multiple other situations. But this is just a pattern of decision making that Ray has demonstrated over the period of time that, once again, it’s no longer going to be tolerated."
Q: After the incident in August, was he put on notice that any further incidents which a police investigation takes place, that this will be the consequence?
Baalke: "I won’t go in the exact details into the conversation that Ray and I had, but Ray and I had multiple conversations since the latest allegations. And put together some criteria that we felt he needed to do in order to stay in good standing and with these latest allegations, that was just one more situation that we just weren’t willing to deal with anymore."
Baalke: "I did not meet with Ray personally. I visited with Ray over the phone, as I did with his agent, on record. And shared with them, and that was probably, Mindi, around 11:30, in that neighborhood, today."
Q: When did you learn about this latest incident?
Baalke: "Matt, I don’t know exactly. It’s somewhere around 10:45 I believe. Eleven o’clock…This morning."
Q: What does the shield behind you mean?
Baalke: "I got to look at which one’s behind us. There’s two shields that we represent. We represent the National Football League and we represent the San Francisco 49ers. And we talk to our players often about respect, accountability, character, what that means. And we’re a big part of this community and we expect a lot of our players. We have high expectations. And for the most part, they live up to those expectations. In certain instances, they don’t. And when they don’t, you try to deal with it and help them the best you can. And sometimes we have been judged to maybe give them too much leeway. I think that’s a little bit harsh. But at the same time, I understand that because I understand what the logo means, the shield means, both at the NFL and San Francisco 49ers. So this is a situation that we can all learn from."
Q: In the wake of all the stuff that’s gone on, is this team in the process of coming up with a standard, philosophy of what you’ll do in certain situations?
Baalke: "I think every situation’s different. I really do. The different circumstances, different characters involved, we’re not going to rubber stamp this decision going forward and saying that every time a situation like this occurs, this is exactly how we’re going to act. But we will be on record as saying the expectations here are no different than they’ve been in the past. We expect a lot from our players, hold them accountable for their actions. And when it becomes a pattern of poor decision making, this can, and will, be the result."
Q: You said a pattern, are we talking about more than the allegation of August and this current incident? Were there more things involved?
Baalke: "Well, I’m not going into Ray’s entire status here and all the things that we’ve discussed. I can say that we’ve had multiple discussions with Ray over time. There’s been things that have been discussed with him and is a plan that was put in place, and this is just a situation that has gone against that plan."
Q: There was a report two weeks ago that he and Brandon Lloyd broke up an argument at a bar the Friday night before the Raider game. Was that another incident that factored into it?
Baalke: "Well, we were aware of that incident. And certainly took a look at that, and, as you know, that was more them stepping in and defending in that situation. But all of it adds up. And I’ll leave it at that."
Q: Have you had conversations with the league office? What kind of role did they play in your organization’s decision?
Baalke: "Have had no conversations with the league office concerning this. We did notify the league office of the allegations like we are expected to. So they were notified sometime around 11, 11:15. Had no contact with them, no communication with them other than that.
"Let me clarify that, Matt. This is a team decision. This is not a league decision."
Q: Once you became aware of this allegation and the nature of the allegation, in your mind was Ray gone?
Baalke: "I guess, what I can tell you is I was extremely disappointed, as all of were to hear of the latest allegations. And once again, this isn’t about guilt or innocence in this specific situation, because we still believe in due process. This is going back to my original statement that this is about a pattern of poor decision making. Not this matter in of itself."
Q: What was his reaction to this decision?
Baalke: "Like you would expect, extremely disappointed. We drafted Ray in the third round. He’s been an awful good football player and for the most part, has been a tremendous asset to this organization and this community. He has made some poor decisions. He’s aware of that. This is a case of being accountable for those decisions."
Q: Have you told the team yet? 11:30 wasn’t that long ago?
Baalke: "Coach has notified the players to me understanding. To my understanding, they would have been notified within the last 15 minutes."
Q: This team has only a week and half left together, are you going to advice them in terms of what they need to do to stay out of trouble this offseason?
Baalke: "We address the players often. And we will definitely address it again as we do multiple times during the offseason, and certainly when we depart from the last team meeting."